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G.R. No.

L-3485

June 30, 1950

THE MUNICIPALITY OF PAOAY, ILOCOS NORTE, petitioner,


vs. TEODORO MANAOIS and EULOGIO F. DE GUZMAN, Judge of the
Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, respondents.
Facts: The municipality of Paoay has for many years been leasing fishery
lots on municipal waters. These waters have been parceled out in lots and
rented after public bidding to the highest bidders. The municipality leased 6
fishery lots to Francisco V. Duque for a period of four years. However, Duque
was not able to comply with the terms of the lease contract; therefore, the
municipality approved a resolution confiscating said fishery lots from Duque
and advertised the lease of its fishery lots for public bidding. Teodoro
Manaois being the highest bidder for said lots, was awarded the lease.
However, Manaois was not able to exercise his right to possession because
Duque continued to claim possession over the properties and despite the
appeal of Manaois to the Municipality of Paoay to put him in possession and
the efforts of the municipality to oust Duque, Duque succeeded in continuing
in his possession and keeping Manaois and his men out.
Manaois brought an action against the Municipality of Paoay to recover the
sum paid by him for the lease of the fishery lots plus damages. He obtained
judgment in his favor in the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, which
decision has long become final. The writ of execution and the attachment
and were issued and effected to enforce the judgment. The municipality filed
a petition for certiorari with the writ of preliminary injunction, asking that the
order of the CFI be reversed and that the attachment of the properties 1 of the
municipality be dissolved.
Issue: WON fishery or municipal waters of the town of Paoay or its usufruct
may be levied upon and subject to execution?
Held: No. Properties for public use held by municipal corporations are not
subject to levy and execution. Even public revenues of municipal
corporations destined for the expenses of the municipality are also exempt
from the execution. The reason behind this is that they are held in trust for
the people, intended and used for the accomplishment of the purposes for
which municipal corporations are created, and that to subject said properties
and public funds to execution would materially impede, even defeat and in
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The following properties were levied upon and attached:


(1) The amount of One thousand seven hundred twelve pesos and one centavo
(P1,712.01) in the Municipal Treasury of Paoay, Ilocos Norte, representing the rental
paid by Mr. Demetrio Tabije of a fishery lot belonging to the defendant municipality;
(2) About forty fishery lots leased to thirty-five different persons by the Municipality.

some instances destroy said purpose. Property however, which is patrimonial


and which is held by municipality in its proprietary capacity is treated as the
private asset of the town and may be levied upon and sold under an ordinary
execution. The same rule applies to municipal funds derived from patrimonial
properties, for instance, it has been held that shares of stocks held by
municipal corporations are subject to execution.
The fishery or municipal waters of the town of Paoay, Ilocos Norte,
which had been parceled out or divided into lots and later let out to
private persons for fishing purposes at an annual rental are not subject
to execution. In the first place, they do not belong to the municipality. They
may well be regarded as property of the State. What the municipality of
Paoay hold is merely what may be considered the usufruct or the right
to use said municipal waters.
Is this particular usufruct of the municipality of Paoay over its municipal
waters, subject to execution to enforce a judgment against the town? No.
First, it is not a usufruct based on or derived from an inherent right of the
town. It is based merely on a grant made by the Legislature. These
marine waters are ordinarily for public use, open to navigation and fishing by
the people. The municipality of Paoay is not holding this usufruct or right of
fishery in a permanent or absolute manner so as to enable it to dispose of it
or to allow it to be taken away from it as its property through execution.
Second, if this were to be allowed and this right sold on execution, the buyer
would immediately step into the shoes of the judgment-debtor municipality.
Such buyer presumably buys only the right of the municipality. He does not
buy the fishery itself nor the municipal waters because that belongs to the
State. All that the buyer might do would be to let out or rent to private
individuals the fishery rights over the lots into which the municipal waters had
been parceled out or divided, and that is, after public bidding. The
impropriety, if not illegality, of such a contingency is readily apparent. The
situation imagined implies the deprivation of the municipal corporation of a
source of a substantial income, expressly provide by law. Because of all this,
we hold that the right or usufruct of the town of Paoay over its municipal
waters is not subject to execution.
But we hold that the revenue or income coming from the renting of
these fishery lots is certainly subject to execution. Unlike the revenue
derived from taxes, municipal licenses and market fees, which are provided
for and imposed by the law, they (income from lease of fishery lots) are
intended primarily and exclusively for the purpose of financing governmental
activities and functions of municipal corporations.We call this activity of
municipalities in renting municipal waters for fishing purposes as a business
for the reasons that the law itself allowed said municipalities to engage in it
for profit. And it is but just that a town so engaged should pay and liquidate
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obligations contracted in connection with said fishing business, with the


income derived therefrom.
In conclusion, we hold that the fishery lots are not subject to execution. The
levy and attachment made by the Provincial Sheriff of Ilocos Norte of theses
fishery lots is void and the order of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan
insofar as it failed to dissolve the attachment made on these lots is reversed.
However, the amount of P1,712.01 in the municipal treasury of Paoay
representing the rental paid by Demetrio Tabije on fishery lots is a proper
subject of levy, and the attachment made thereon by the Sheriff is valid. Also,
other amounts coming or due from lessees of the forty odd fishery lots leased
by the municipality to different persons may also be attached or garnished to
satisfy the judgement against the municipality of Paoay.

for public use. It is therefore necessary to ascertain the nature and status
back a few years, specifically, to the year 1937.

EN BANC
G.R. No. L-3485

June 30, 1950

THE MUNICIPALITY OF PAOAY, ILOCOS NORTE, petitioner,


vs.
TEODORO MANAOIS and EULOGIO F. DE GUZMAN, Judge of the Court
of First Instance of Pangasinan, respondents.
First Assistant Solicitor General Roberto A. Gianzon and Solicitor Pacifico P.
de
Castro
for
petitioner.
Primicias, Abad, Mencias and Castillo for respondents.
MONTEMAYOR, J.:
Teodoro Manaois having obtained a judgment against the municipality of
Paoay, Ilocos Norte in civil case No. 8026 of the Court of First Instance of
Pangasinan, Judge De Guzman of said province issued a writ of execution
against the defendant municipality. In compliance with said writ the Provincial
Sheriff of Ilocos Norte levied upon and attached the following properties:
(1) The amount of One thousand seven hundred twelve pesos and
one centavo (P1,712.01) in the Municipal Treasury of Paoay, Ilocos
Norte, representing the rental paid by Mr. Demetrio Tabije of a fishery
lot belonging to the defendant municipality;
(2) About forty fishery lots leased to thirty-five different persons by
the Municipality.
On July 26, 1949, the Provincial Fiscal of Ilocos Norte in representation of
the municipality of Paoay, filed a petition in the Court of First Instance of
Pangasinan asking for the dissolution of that attachment of levy of the
properties above-mentioned. Judge De Guzman in his order of October 6,
1949, denied the petition for the dissolution of the attachment; a motion for
reconsideration was also denied. Instead of appealing from that order the
municipality of Paoay has filed the present petition for certiorari with the writ
of preliminary injunction, asking that the order of respondent Judge dated
October 6, 1946, be reversed and that the attachment of the properties of the
municipality already mentioned be dissolved.
The petitioner goes on the theory that the properties attached by the sheriff
for purposes of execution are not subject to levy because they are properties

It seems that the municipality of Paoay is and for many years has been
operating or rather leasing fishery lots on municipal waters. These waters
have been parceled out in lots, either singly or in groups and let out or rented
after public bidding to the highest bidders, ordinarily, for a year, but
sometimes, for a longer period of time. On April 4, 1937, the municipality of
Paoay entered into a contract with one Francisco V. Duque for the lease of
fishery lots 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 at a rental of P1,218.79 per annum, for a
period of four years from January 1, 1937 to December 31, 1940. In 1938,
the municipal council of Paoay approved a resolution confiscating said
fishery lots on the ground that Duque had failed to comply with the terms of
the lease contract. Thereafter, the municipality advertised the lease of its
fishery lots for public bidding, including the lots above mentioned. Teodoro
Manaois being the highest bidder for said lots 3 to 8, was awarded the lease
thereof as per resolution of the municipality council of Paoay of December 1,
1938. On January 1, 1939, Manaois paid P2,025 as rental for the said lots for
the year 1939. However, when Manaois and his men tried to enter the
property in order to exercise his rights as lessee and to catch fish, particularly
bagos fry, he found therein Duque and his men who claimed that he
(Duque) was still the lessee, and despite the appeal of Manaois to the
Municipality of Paoay to put him in possession and the efforts of the
municipality to oust Duque, the latter succeeded in continuing in his
possession and keeping Manaois and his men out. Manaois brought an
action against the Municipality of Paoay to recover not only the sum paid by
him for the lease of the fishery lots but also damages. He obtained judgment
in his favor in June, 1940 in the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, civil
case No. 8026, which decision has long become final. The writ of execution
and the attachment and levy mentioned at the beginning of this decision
were issued and effected to enforce the judgment just mentioned.
There can be no question that properties for public use held by municipal
corporation are not subject to levy and execution. The authorities are
unanimous on this point. This Court in the case of Viuda de Tantoco vs.
Municipal Council of Iloilo (49 Phil., 52) after citing Manresa, the works of
McQuillin and Dillon on Municipal Corporations, and Corpus Juris, held that
properties for public use like trucks used for sprinkling the streets, police
patrol wagons, police stations, public markets, together with the land on
which they stand are exempt from execution. Even public revenues of
municipal corporations destined for the expenses of the municipality are also
exempt from the execution. The reason behind this exemption extended to
properties for public use, and public municipal revenues is that they are held
in trust for the people, intended and used for the accomplishment of the
purposes for which municipal corporations are created, and that to subject

said properties and public funds to execution would materially impede, even
defeat and in some instances destroy said purpose.
Property however, which is patrimonial and which is held by municipality in its
proprietary capacity is treated by great weight of authority as the private
asset of the town and may be levied upon and sold under an ordinary
execution. The same rule applies to municipal funds derived from patrimonial
properties, for instance, it has been held that shares of stocks held by
municipal corporations are subject to execution. If this is true, with more
reason should income or revenue coming from these shares of stock, in the
form of interest or dividends, be subject to execution? (McQuillin on
Municipal Corporations, Vol. 3, par. 1160.)
The fishery or municipal waters of the town of Paoay, Ilocos Norte, which had
been parceled out or divided into lots and later let out to private persons for
fishing purposes at an annual rental are clearly not subject to execution. In
the first place, they do not belong to the municipality. They may well be
regarded as property of State. What the municipality of Paoay hold is merely
what may be considered the usufruct or the right to use said municipal
waters, granted to it by section 2321 of the Revised Administrative Code
which reads as follows:

merely on a grant, more or less temporary, made by the Legislature. Take the
right of fishery over the sea or marine waters bordering a certain municipality.
These marine waters are ordinarily for public use, open to navigation and
fishing by the people. The Legislature thru section 2321 of the Administrative
Code, as already stated, saw fit to grant the usufruct of said marine waters
for fishery purpose, to the towns bordering said waters. Said towns have no
visited right over said marine waters. The Legislature, for reasons it may
deem valid or as a matter of public policy, may at any time, repeal or modify
said section 2321 and revoke this grant to coastal towns and open these
marine waters to the public. Or the Legislature may grant the usufruct or right
of fishery to the provinces concerned so that said provinces may operate or
administer them by leasing them to private parties.
All this only goes to prove that the municipality of Paoay is not holding this
usufruct or right of fishery in a permanent or absolute manner so as to enable
it to dispose of it or to allow it to be taken away from it as its property through
execution.

Where two municipalities are so situated on opposite shores that


there is less than six marine leagues of marine waters between them
the third line shall be a line equally distant from the opposite shores
of the respective municipalities.

Another reason against subjecting this usufruct or right of fishery over


municipal waters, to execution, is that, if this were to be allowed and this right
sold on execution, the buyer would immediately step into the shoes of the
judgment-debtor municipality. Such buyer presumably buys only the right of
the municipality. He does not buy the fishery itself nor the municipal waters
because that belongs to the State. All that the buyer might do would be to let
out or rent to private individuals the fishery rights over the lots into which the
municipal waters had been parceled out or divided, and that is, after public
bidding. This, he must do because that is the only right granted to the
municipality by the Legislature, a right to be exercised in the manner
provided by law, namely, to rent said fishery lots after public bidding. (See
sec. 2323 of the Administrative Code in connection with sec. 2319 of the
same Code.) Then, we shall have a situation rather anomalous to be sure, of
a private individual conducting public bidding, renting to the highest bidders
fishery lots over municipal waters which are property of the State, and
appropriating the results to his own private use. The impropriety, if not
illegality, of such a contingency is readily apparent. But that is not all. The
situation imagined implies the deprivation of the municipal corporation of a
source of a substantial income, expressly provide by law. Because of all this,
we hold that the right or usufruct of the town of Paoay over its municipal
waters, particularly, the forty odd fishery lots included in the attachment by
the Sheriff, is not subject to execution.

Now, is this particular usufruct of the municipality of Paoay over its municipal
waters, subject to execution to enforce a judgment against the town? We are
not prepared to answer this question in the affirmative because there are
powerful reasons against its propriety and legality. In the first place, it is not a
usufruct based on or derived from an inherent right of the town. It is based

But we hold that the revenue or income coming from the renting of these
fishery lots is certainly subject to execution. It may be profitable, if not
necessary, to distinguish this kind of revenue from that derived from taxes,
municipal licenses and market fees are provided for and imposed by the law,
they are intended primarily and exclusively for the purpose of financing the

1. SEC. 2321. Grant of fishery. A municipal council shall have


authority, for purposes of profit, to grant the exclusive privileges of
fishery or right to conduct a fish-breeding ground within any definite
portion, or area, of the municipal waters.
"Municipal waters", as herein used, include not only streams, lakes,
and tidal waters, include within the municipality, not being the subject
of private ownership, but also marine waters include between two
lines drawn perpendicular to the general coast line from points where
the boundary lines of the municipality touch the sea at high tide, and
third line parallel with the general coast line and distant from it three
marine leagues.

governmental activities and functions of municipal corporations. In fact, the


real estate taxes collected by a municipality do not all go to it. A portion
thereof goes to the province, in the proportion provided for by law. For the
same reason, municipal markets are established not only to provide a place
where the people may sell and buy commodities but also to provide public
revenues for the municipality. To many towns, market fees constitute the bulk
of their assets and incomes. These revenues are fixed and definite, so much
so that the annual appropriations for the expenses of the municipalities are
based on these revenues. Not so with the income derived form fisheries. In
the first place, the usufruct over municipal waters was granted by the
Legislature merely to help or bolster up the economy of municipal
government. There are many towns in the Philippines, specially in the
interior, which do not have municipal waters for fishery purpose and yet
without much source of revenue, they can function, which goes to prove that
this kind of revenue is not indispensable for the performance of governmental
functions. In the second place, the amount of this income is far from definite
or fixed. It depends upon the amounts which prospective bidders or lessees
are willing to pay. If fishing on these marine water, lakes and rivers in the
municipality is good, the bids would be high and the income would be
substantial. If the fish in these waters is depleted or, if for some reasons or
another, fishing is not profitable, then the income would be greatly reduced.
In other words, to many municipalities engaged in this business of letting out
municipal waters for fishing purposes, it is a sort of sideline, so that even for
fishing purposes, it is sort of sideline, so that even without it the municipality
may still continue functioning and perform its essential duties as such
municipal corporations.
We call this activity of municipalities in renting municipal waters for fishing
purposes as a business for the reasons that the law itself (Sec. 2321,
Administrative Code already mentioned and quoted) allowed said
municipalities to engage in it for profit. And it is but just that a town so
engaged should pay and liquidate obligations contracted in connection with
said fishing business, with the income derived therefrom.
In conclusion, we hold that the fishery lots numbering about forty in the
municipality of Paoay, mentioned at the beginning of this decision are not
subject to execution. For this reason, the levy and attachment made by the
Provincial Sheriff of Ilocos Norte of theses fishery lots is void and the order of
the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan insofar as it failed to dissolve the
attachment made on these lots is reversed. However, the amount of
P1,712.01 in the municipal treasury of Paoay representing the rental paid by
Demetrio Tabije on fishery lots let out by the municipality of Paoay is a proper
subject of levy, and the attachment made thereon by the Sheriff is valid. We
may add that other amounts coming or due from lessees of the forty odd
fishery lots leased by the municipality to different persons may also be

attached or garnished to satisfy the judgement against the municipality of


Paoay.
In this connection, we wish to say that had the municipality of Paoay paid the
judgment rendered against it, all this controversy and court action with all its
vexation, troubles and expense would have been avoided. It will be
remembered that the decision against the municipality was rendered as far
back as 1940. Evidently, the municipality did not appeal from that decision. It
has long become final. The Court of Pangasinan that rendered the decision
saw no valid defense of the municipality to the legitimate claim of Teodoro
Manaois. After the municipality had failed to place Manaois in possession of
the lots leased to him, the municipality did not even offer to return or
reimburse the rental paid by him. It is hard to understand the position taken
by the municipality of Paoay. The courts, including this tribunal cannot
condone, much less encourage, the repudiation of just obligations contracted
by municipal corporations. On the contrary, the courts and compel payments
of their valid claims against municipalities with which they entered into valid
contracts. Municipal corporations are authorized by law to sue and be sued.
(Sec. 2165, Rev. Adm. Code). This authority naturally carries with it all the
remedies and court processes, including writs of execution and attachment
against municipal corporations. While we are willing and ready to protect
properties of municipalities held for public use, as well as public revenues
such as taxes, from execution, we believe that other properties of such
municipalities not held for public use, including funds which are not essential
to the performance of their public functions, may be levied upon and sold to
satisfy valid claims against said municipalities. And this Tribunal will help any
citizen and give him every judicial facility to enforce his valid claim, especially
a court award, against municipal corporations, even to the extent of attaching
and selling on execution, municipal revenues and properties not exempt from
execution.
In view of the foregoing, the order of the respondent Judge of October 6,
1949, is reversed insofar as it failed to dissolved the attachment of the forty
odd fishery lots. In all other respect, said order is hereby affirmed.
Ozaeta, Pablo, Bengzon, Tuason, and Reyes, JJ., concur.